Last Updated: September 28, 2021

Best Beaches In Basque Country

The Basque Country is an autonomous region of northern Spain that stretches into France. You might have heard of the Spanish Basque Country and the French Basque Country. The entire region is celebrated for its amazing food, strong cultural traditions, amazing architecture, and it’s beautiful coastline.

If you have never visited the Basque Country and the cities of San Sebastian or Biarritz, you really should add it to your list. It’s magical.

While you’re in the Basque Country, you’re likely to spend quite a lot of time hanging out on the beautiful beaches, playing in the sea, and surfing (or learning to). There are hundreds of beaches to choose from though, and you won’t have time to find the best beaches in Basque Country on your own, so we are here to give you a head start.

A word on the tides

When it comes to visiting the best beaches in the Basque Country, you need to think about the tides if you’re going to get the most out of your visits.

Not all beaches in the Basque Country rely on the tide but if you visit some at high tide, there might not be any beach to lie on, or at low tide, there might not be any sea to swim in, so keep a careful eye. You can find the tides for the Basque Country online with a quick search so there are no excuses.

Playa de Laga

Playa de Laga sits inside the Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve and is a truly stunning beach. The golden sands run for around 1km and they are surrounded by clear blue seas, green hills, and pretty headlands. It also sits between the mountains of Atxarre and Ogoño so the drive to it is also pretty awesome too.

Playa de Laga isn’t a beach that you have to worry about the tide when planning to visit. You’ll be able to go at any time in the tide and find lovely sand to lie on and water to swim in. Swimming is safe depending on the size of the waves and there are lifeguards stationed there during the summer.

It’s also a pretty awesome surfing beach so if you have a board and know what you’re doing, this is a spot to go to, it’s also just next door to the famous Spanish wave Mundaka. You’ll also find a surf center at the beach so you can rent a board and wetsuit, or you can get some lessons.

Getting to Playa de Laga is easy if you have a car and there is ample parking at the beach entrance. You’ll also find two delicious restaurants on the beach which serve great seafood and great drinks too. There are also freshwater showers so you can rinse off the salt after having been for a swim.

Another great thing about Playa de Laga is that the hiking trail Paseo de Laga a Laida goes right past it so you can enjoy a nice hike up the hills to see the views off the cliffs and then return to the beach for some chill time.

Playa La Concha

Right in the heart of San Sebastian is the beach of La Concha and I’m always jealous that such an awesome town can have such an awesome beach right in the middle of it.

La Concha is stunning! You have the Urgull mountain and the harbor on the right, the backdrop of San Sebastian, and the island of Santa Clara in the middle, and on the left is the Igueldo mountain.

Just imagining this lineup is pretty insane and when you add in the crystal blue sea and golden sand, and that you’re a stone throw from some of the best food in Europe, it’s hard to beat.

La Concha is perfectly protected thanks to its bay shape, the mountains on either side and Santa Clara island in the middle. High winds and big waves are deflected naturally, keeping the waters around La Concha calm no matter the weather, making it an amazing swimming beach for families and anyone else.

You can also grab a paddleboard or a kayak and check out Santa Clara island, and it’s the best way to see the mountains behind San Sebastian and the amazing backdrop of La Concha.

La Concha doesn’t get waves, so if you’re a surfer, make sure to leave your board in the car when checking this one out.

A La Concha is a beach that needs to be time with the tide. At high tide, the sea will slap against the city wall so make sure you arrive at a half tide and while it’s going down if you want to spend a few hours there.

Zarautz

Zarautz has a special place in my heart, and this is mainly because of being a surfer and the waves I luckily got to ride while I was there. It’s not just great for surfing though, it’s one of the best beaches in the Basque Country for everyone, families, swimmers, and tourists alike.

Zarautz’s charm begins with its size. This Basque Country beach runs 2.5 kilometers and it has so many great sections. At the east end of Zarautz, you’ll find a little estuary surrounded by a stunning green golf course that keeps the vibe of a wild natural beach.

As you move to the west you find the part of Zarautz beach that Zarautz town flows onto. The promenade is covered in delicious restaurants, bars, surf rentals/shops, cafes, and more. This means you can be chilling on the beach and in minutes be served tapas and delicious seafood.

At high tide, there isn’t much beach to sunbathe on at Zarautz, surfers literally walk down the steps into the sea sometimes.

The middle of Zaratuz is where the surfers tend to line up as the sandbank there holds the best waves, otherwise, the rest of the beach is yours to explore and it’s great for swimming and kids to play on when the waves are small.

You’ll also find a lot of surf schools in Zarautz, so if you want to learn, it’s a great beach to go to. You can also stay in town and just walk down with your board for the ultimate convenience.

Karraspio

Karraspio Beach sits around an hour to the west of Zarautz near the small town of Lekeitio and is one of the best beaches in Basque Country that you have to visit while you’re there.

What makes this beach so special is the setting. Like with all Basque Country beaches, there are golden sands and crystal blue waters, but this beach takes this to another level. To the east you’ll find a stunning forested headland, to the west is the estuary of the River Lea, and out in front is the island of San Nicolas.

At low tide, you can walk out to the island of San Nicolas and tour around the island. There is a convent on the south side of the island which is worth checking out and a stunning viewpoint on the north side that looks into the Bay of Biscay. You can also swim out to the island if the tide is too high if you don’t mind swimming aways out (it’s not too far, to be honest).

The beach itself is always sandy so no matter the tide you will find a nice place to sunbathe and there is always water to swim in too. It’s a great beach for families, you’ll find lifeguards on duty, plus there are 3 restaurants to choose from, and changing rooms and showers.

Itzurun

Itzurun beach is another amazing beach in the Basque country that needs to be visited when you’re in the area, especially if you love cliffs, looking for fossils, or have kids who are obsessed with dinosaurs, like my nephew.

Itzurun beach is lined by huge cliffs which feature the longest series of continuous rock layers in the world. You can find fossils on the beach which are over 100 million years old, how crazy is that. This isn’t its only claim to fame though, Itzurun beach was also used to film some of the moments in Game Of Thrones such as when Daenerys Targaryen went back to Dragonstone from the shores of Westeros.

If you’re not into the claims to fame, then don’t worry, as a simple beach it’s also beautiful. It’s full of drama thanks to the cliffs, the sands are golden, the sea is blue, it picks up a lot of swell for surfers, and it has a lovely restaurant to hang out on too.

You’ll find Itzurun beach just near the town of Zumaia so you can also have a look around this beautiful little fishing village when you visit. There are also some lovely hiking trails along the cliffs if you’re feeling strong for a steep hike up. Once you’re up at the top, the views are worth the leg ache that it takes to get up there.

Atxibiribil

If you love surfing then Atxibiribil beach is going to be one you want to visit. You’ll find the beach just outside of Bilbao and it’s huge as it merges with Arrietera beach to the west to make one giant bay.

The reason that they are so great for surfing is because the sandbanks hold well under big swells. Plus, the bay is wide open pointing northwest meaning it picks up every bit of swell the runs into the Bay Of Biscay.

The surf on the beaches is so good that many surf competitions such as World Bodyboard IBATOUR and the ASP surf contents are held there. If you surf, this is one of the best beaches in Basque Country along with Mundaka.

The beach isn’t just great for surfers and bodyboarders, it’s also great if you want to hang out on the beach and swim. During the summer, the swells drop so the waves can be non-existent making it perfect for families who want to swim too.

The beach is stunning with big dramatic cliffs on all sides that turn it into a kind of natural amphitheater. It’s worth just walking along the cliffs and seeing the views even if the waves are a bit big and you want to find a more secluded beach.

Getting to the beach is easy. There is ample parking on the cliffs and then you just need to wander down to the sand. To the eastern end of the beach are a few bars and restaurants which are great to eat at and to watch the sunset from.

Playa De Bakio

Playa De Bakio is a stunning little beach that sits at the bottom of a valley surrounded by mountains. If you’re looking for the best beach in Basque Country with an amazing backdrop then Playa De Bakio is probably the one to go to.

There are literally mountains to the west, east, and south. If you swim out from the beach, or paddle out when surfing, and then look back, all you can see are mountains falling into the sea.

The beach is large and wide, there is no need to worry about the tide when visiting this beach, as there is always sand for you to chill out on. In terms of convenience, Playa De Bakio couldn’t be better either. The center of the small town is just a few minutes walk from the sand and you’ll find everything you need from a supermarket restaurants and more.

Playa De Bakio is another popular surfing beach like almost all the beaches in Basque Country. You’ll find a few surf schools that will happily give you a lesson or rent you a surfboard so you can enjoy the waves anytime you fancy.

For non-surfers, the beach is great too. The sand goes on and on, there is always space to find your own little spot, and in summer when the waves die down it is great for swimming. This is an ideal family beach, especially if anyone in the family wants to surf while the rest chill on the sand.

Zurriola Beach

On the other side of San Sebastian, to the east of La Concha beach, you’ll find San Sebastian’s second beach called Zurriola. Zurriola is the surfing beach of San Sebastian, so when you see businessmen coming out of their office in San Sebastian in a wetsuit with a surfboard under their arm, you know where they are going, Zurriola.

Zurriola beach is super pretty with Mount Ulla to the east and with the Urumea river’s estuary on the western side. You couldn’t swim safely at Zurriola before they installed a breakwater in 1995 when they renovated it. Now it’s the perfect place for families to chill out and enjoy a swim during the summer or winter season.

The sand is golden, the sea is clear, there is a promenade with restaurants, at the east end is a skate park, and beyond that a lush green park. Who wouldn’t want to live in a city with a beach like this? Oh, there are also beach volley courts and Basque ball games.

Zurriola is also a great surfing beach for longboards and learning to surf. You’ll find loads of surf hire shops that also offer lessons if you want to learn. It’s the perfect beach for the whole family and immensely popular with the residents of San Sebastian. It has a great feel to it and everyone is having fun.

During summer, they separate a surf zone and a swim zone, so no swimmers are at risk from the surfed over by mistake. One thing to bear in mind is that nudism has been legal on Zurriola since 2004 so don’t be surprised if you see more flesh than you were expecting. Overall, this is one of the best urban beaches in Basque Country and maybe the world.

Laida Beach

Last but certainly not least of the best beaches in Basque Country is Laida. Laida sits in the Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve between the famous surfing beaches of both Mundaka and Playa de Laga. Laida beach is quite special because it is made from the estuary of the Mundakako River.

Laida beach is quite small at high tide but at low tide, it becomes a huge wash of sand flats that run for more than 1km with shallow water making it the perfect place for young kids to splash around and enjoy the water next to the shore.

You can swim, surf, sail, and there are great facilities such as restaurants, changing rooms, and easy parking. Be aware of the currents as at times the river and sea can clash hard and make it difficult to swim or paddle your board.

The Best Beaches In Basque Country

As you can see, the Basque Country is home to some incredible beaches that are all worth visiting, especially if you like to surf, and you may as well try it while you’re there for an hour or two, just to see if it’s the hobby for you.

The best time to be on the Basque Country beaches is in the months of May, June, and September. They won’t be too busy as it’s outside of school holidays but you should also find that it’s still hot and sunny for swimming and tanning.

About the Author Anna Timbrook

Anna is the co-owner of expert world travel and can't wait to share her travel experience with the world. With over 54 countries under her belt she has a lot to write about! Including those insane encounters with black bears in Canada.

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